A program of Winter Wildlands Alliance, SnowSchool is an unforgettable winter adventure that combines hands-on science education with outdoor snowshoe exploration for 28,000 K-12 students each winter. The recent cold autumn weather is a good reminder that the SnowSchool season will soon be upon us. But it’s far from business as usual this year; with major changes happening across the country’s educational landscape it’s clear that the SnowSchool program must also evolve in order to stay relevant.
Chances are you’ve heard about the education reforms happening across the country right now. A coalition of twenty-six states has led the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. This new educational framework moves American science instruction away from a presentation of mere facts, and towards more contextualized and meaningful science learning. Based upon international benchmarking, the Next Generation Science Standards aim to more fully engage students in the practices of science. This development has also coincided with the National Governor’s Association led creation of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and language arts. With a majority of states adopting one or both of these reforms, the result is big changes in American education.
To keep SnowSchool up-to-date amidst these changes WWA has been working hard to align the program with the new national standards. SnowSchool has always been about introducing youth to the wonders of their local winter landscape and fostering ecological literacy among students. At WWA we believe our ability to achieve this goal is greatly enhanced by aligning SnowSchool with new developments in education. And while our existing 2013 SnowSchool Curriculum and Activity guide has recently been updated to align with the new national standards, the process will be an ongoing one. To stay relevant in the new world of science education a program like SnowSchool must strive to be more than a simple “one and done” field trip. To address this issue WWA has been working for some time on developing components of the SnowSchool program that create dynamic classroom learning experiences which in turn connect to learning experiences in the winter environment.
The results are, for example, 6th grade students working with hydrologists in the classroom to construct a model of their local watershed system prior to their snowshoe field trip. And this winter at the high school level SnowSchool students will work with snow scientists to gather local snowpack data and, once back in the classroom, compare the data with historical trends. The result of these modifications is that SnowSchool participants are transformed into passionate student scientists and snowshoe explorers. As we work to implement these ideas on a national scale, your continued support of WWA helps provide an exciting SnowSchool experience for thousands of students across the country.